WTAMU Meat Lab steps up in response to empty grocery shelves

Marcus Rogers for The Prairie. Music by Michael Ramir C.

Marcus Rogers, Editor-in-Chief

Over the course of the COVID-19 pandemic, restaurants and meat connoisseurs have had problems with finding beef products due to complications in the supply chain. West Texas A&M University’s Doc’s Meat Lab has been helping the community in providing affordable meat products. 

The WTAMU Meat Lab, Doc’s Prime Cuts, is a retail meat supply store where you can purchase high-quality protein easily in light of the recent changes in the supply chain. A recent addition to the WTAMU campus along with the Agricultural Sciences Complex, allows students, community members and faculty to purchase meat products for consumption just steps from their dorms and the street.

“During the peak of COVID-19, (meatpacking facilities) labor pool was greatly diminished because of the outbreak, and so their capacities went from running anywhere from 6,000 head a day to less than 1,000 a day. That created huge supply and demand issues that if you were here you would have noticed at the grocery store with no meat in the counter,” said Dr. Travis Tennant, Assistant Professor of Animal Science at WTAMU. 

Canyon restaurants located in the beef capital of the world are experiencing consistent meat accessibility problems for their businesses to run. The meat lab has been helping serve the community by providing products to local restaurants such as Canyon Ranch, Back 40 Grill and Buffs, in the time of tribulation in the areas that they can help in.

“I’ve just gotten to know a lot of the professors who have been in there and then we just started talking and talking about their meat and what they’re wanting to do for the future and expand. Next thing you know we start buying,” said Chris Anderson, operating partner for Buffs, a local restaurant in Canyon. 

The supply for meat products, specifically beef, exploded after COVID-19 arrived in the packaging facilities located around the Texas Panhandle. With the lowered supply and same amount, if not more demand, there was a problem at the supermarkets with empty shelves in the meat section. People needed their meat even with the shortages, some turned to the WT meat lab in a time of need.

“We saw a tremendous amount of volume in and out, we went from 50 to 100 head of people in a week to 200 people in a week,” Tennant said.

WTAMU is centered around uplifting the community and students. The meat lab has been stepping up and acting on the traditions that the community of Canyon admires about WTAMU.

“I just think it’s a great campus, great place, and just glad to be a part of everything, WT and the traditions.” Anderson said.

Universities are more than a location; they help connect others with real-life skills that are used in the real world. Bettering the lives of others is rare and hard to find in this current political climate but helping others has been witnessed in the storefront of the meat lab, with an act of kindness that touched the life of an employee of WTAMU.

“(An employee for WT) had gone through a hard time with his family because of COVID-19 and whatnot. When he got there, he was struggling to pick out meat because I could tell he was trying to add up in his head how much money he had. He came up to the front with like maybe a couple steaks and some ground beef and I told him like oh it’s free someone came in and I paid for you,” said Becca Grimes, graduate student studying animal science at WTAMU.

If you’re wanting to purchase any meat products, Doc’s Prime Cuts is located in the Happy State Bank Academic and Research Building at 600 WTAMU Drive Canyon, TX 79016, open 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. .


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